Boys of Summer

When it comes to interior design, I tend to stay away from kitsch and overly themed decor. However, there's a special place in my heart for tiki culture, specifically the cocktail element.

Tiki mugs originated in the '60s as a promotional tool for the bar and restaurant industry. Engraved logos and wordmarks graced the back of mugs, acting as a keepsake for the patrons' experience. Today, tiki-themed bars are still serving up their signature drinks in a themed mug, and some offer the option of a take-home souvenir. Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland is one of my favorite places to acquire these treasures. They work with a variety of artists to keep the mug designs fresh, and the style is always on-point.

I've been acquiring tiki mugs for a bit now, and my growing collection ranges from vintage to new and limited edition artist releases. Some of my most prized pieces are the signed/numbered works of art by Kevin Kidney and SHAG. Bringing out these mugs at a summer BBQ is always a big hit as everyone gets to choose a unique character to accompany their tropical beverage of choice. Drop in a colorful paper umbrella, and you've got an instant party.

I recently stopped by the Presidio Social Club in San Francisco for brunch (not a tiki establishment), where I was introduced to the Painkiller cocktail. It's a classic standby on any tiki drink menu. Somehow, someway, I hadn't tried this drink before, but it was just what I wanted with my chorizo polenta special. At 10 AM, the waitress advised, "What made you order this? This is a strong drink." to which I shrugged my shoulders. The refreshing flavors of pineapple, orange, and coconut paired with rum -- you can't go wrong. The brimming pint glass serving had me feeling just fine.

Of course, I had to take a cut at making (and modifying) this tropical treat at home. I cut back slightly on the pineapple juice and introduced Trader Vic's macadamia nut liqueur. It's absolute heaven.

Amidst this 100+ degree heat, I've been making a lot of progress with landscaping and outdoor projects, so I've found the painkiller to be the perfect cocktail to keep me feeling cool, refreshed, and yes...perhaps even pain-free. This light, refreshing, creamy, sweet, ice cold concoction has easily become my go-to drink this summer, and I suspect you'll enjoy it, too. Break out your tiki mugs, the shades and the umbrellas, then raise your glass to the tiki gods, and pray they keep you cool and relaxed through the hottest of days.


The Painkiller

Prep: 6 min.  |   Serves: 1


2 oz. Meyers's Original dark rum
3 oz. Dole pineapple juice
1 oz. fresh orange juice
1 oz. Coco Lopez
1/2 oz. Trader Vic's macadamia nut liqueur
Fresh grated nutmeg


Add 6-8 ice cubes to a cocktail shaker. Add rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, coconut cream, and macadamia nut liqueur. Fit with lid and shake vigorously. Fill your favorite tiki mug to the brim with crushed ice. Strain contents of shaker into glass. Top with fresh grated nutmeg. Serve and enjoy!